The Union government has made the 12-digit Unique Identification (UID) number must for poor women to get cooking gas connections and defence pensioners to receive their payments, in notifications released this week.
The move is expected to draw criticism from activists who say the enrollment to the Aadhaar programme should not be a condition to receive state benefits.
Women below the poverty line (BPL) will need to present their Aadhaar cards if they want free cooking gas (LPG) connections under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), a gazette notification said.
“...The use of Aadhaar as identity document for delivery of services or benefits or subsidies simplifies the government delivery processes, brings in transparency and efficiency,” said the government notification.
In a similar notification published in the gazette on March 6, the government said Aadhaar will be mandatory for all retired defence personnel and family members of deceased ex-servicemen to receive pensions.
The BPL women have time till May 31 and military pensioners have time till June 30 to enroll using the UID.
Sources in the oil ministry, the nodal authority for PMUY, said that oil marketing companies will facilitate the process of Aadhaar application for BPL families.
This move comes after the government mandated Aadhaar last year for claiming subsidy on LPG cylinders.
There are nearly 30 lakh defence pensioners in the country with the total pension budget amounting to Rs 80,000 crore after the implementation of the one rank-one pension (OROP).
“There is a clear Supreme Court order that public service cannot be denied because of Aadhaar, but the government continues to violate it. By doing this, the government is excluding people who need these services the most,” said Anjali Bhardwaj, founder of Satark Nagril Sangathan.
The government has made Aadhaar cards mandatory for several social welfare schemes, including mid-day meals, subsidised rations and LPG connections.
As part of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, announced in the Budget 2016, five crore LPG connections will be provided to BPL families over the next three years. A sum of Rs 8,000 crore has been set aside for this scheme.